A foregone conclusion

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: “Natural gas is an important part of our nation’s energy future, and it’s critical that the extraction of this valuable natural resource does not come at the expense of safe water and healthy communities.” -EPA press release, 9/09/10

Okay.  Most of the conventional natural gas is gone.  What’s left?  Unconventional natural gas such as coalbed methane and shale gas.  What does production of unconventional gas require?  Yup, hydraulic fracturing.

If EPA doesn’t know if hydraulic fracturing is safe, and it’s just embarking on a study to determine whether it’s safe, how can Jackson say, “natural gas is an important part of our nation’s energy future”?

Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse?

Or, in fact, is the study’s outcome already determined?

You could be excused for thinking so.   EPA’s meetings around the country have been carefully engineered to avoid meaningful citizen participation, with 2-minute time limits on comments, and a slot-assignment system that prevents a group of citizens from ceding pooled time to a designated speaker who could then make a comment of reasonable length that would allow significant content.

We have a news flash for you, Ms Jackson: Natural gas extraction is already coming at the expense of safe water and healthy communities.   It has been for years.  And while which aspects of the extraction process are responsible for which health and community effects are nice distinctions that bureaucrats not living with gas extraction think they have the luxury of debating at length, a lot of Americans in 32 states living in a personal hell because of  natural gas extraction think those distinctions are a bit academic.  They don’t care whether the contamination of their water is due to drilling or fracturing.  They don’t care whether their air is being poisoned by fracking waste ponds, drilling compressors, or condensate tanks.

They’d just like to have their lives back.